Mardi Gras party time and parades started around dawn in New Orleans, but when does the throwing of beads and doubloons come to a halt? The partying continues inside French Quarter bars into the wee hours, but another Mardi Gras tradition takes hold after midnight: the Big Sweep.
At 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, the city's superintendent of police, dressed in full uniform, and his aides arrive on horseback to lead a brigade of sanitation trucks starting at the intersection of Bourbon and Canal streets. "And that's the signal to get off the streets," Lea Sinclair of the city's tourism bureau said Tuesday. The object, of course, is to clear the streets of revelers so workers can use high-power hoses and sweepers to clean up debris. "And when you wake up in the morning, everything is cleaned up," Sinclair added.